Surf's up, dude! You’ve always wanted to yell that whilst excitedly crashing through the waves, clutching a surfboard under your arm, haven't you? Of course you have! It's the dream of millions, but it's not as easy as it looks, and the experts have it honed to a fine (very fine) skill.
It looks incredible, riding the waves, balancing on top of a surfboard, the salt spray flicking up into your face and the sun shining down on you as you come to a stop on the beach and leap off, victorious.
What a rush! The adrenalin is sky high, and once you've tried it, all you'll want to do it go again, and again, and again… Until the surf drops down, the sun goes in, or your legs give up, whichever happens first.
Of course, just striding up to the sea wearing the right clothes and carrying the correct equipment will not enable you to do what the professionals do. But with some surfing lessons, you'll start to get the idea, at least. And you may even come away with a brand new talent!
Start with a short but essential safety briefing covering all the basics on how to stay safe in the water, and how to use the board to ensure you get the best ride possible. Then it's straight down to the beach to get started.
The first lesson begins with you in the water, so be prepared to get wet! All equipment is usually provided, so there's no need to worry, but you must be a good swimmer in order to take part in this water based activity.
Lessons vary in duration but all are great fun if you love splashing around. If you have a sense of balance (unlike me) then that's even better!
This unique experience will give you the basics you need to continue surfing as a great, healthy hobby that, once you begin, you'll be addicted straight away! Incredible fun, adrenalin inducing, and all set in gorgeous scenery as an added bonus.
If surfing in the waves of the British coastline sends shivers down your spine, how about trying your hand at surfing - indoors?
Flowboarding, as it's called, is a mix of surfing, skateboarding and wakeboarding, and a special machine delivers an endless flow of water - perfect for putting your surfing skills to the test. Most lessons start with body boarding, helping you to find your groove, get to grips with this wet and wild sport and make a serious splash! The Flowrider surf machine delivers an endless flow of water at various speeds and wave heights.
On the day you'll meet your instructor before climbing into a flattering wetsuit and getting kitted out. After a quick briefing on safety and surfing techniques, you'll begin. You will take it in turns with the other members of your group to ride the waves, with your instructor on-hand to offer guidance throughout.
Unlike the cold and miserable outdoors where the surf can be unpredictable and often pathetic, the waves at this venue usually operate on-demand all year round.
If you're not confident in the sea but would love to try your hand at surfing, this is the next best thing.
Windsurfing might be one of the most exhilarating, exciting, and adventurous ways to cross the water (as well as being one of the most tricky to master!)… But where to start? How do you get up on one of those big old boards and let the wind take you (or rather, how do you control that wind that wants to take you) wherever it chooses?
Thanks to a range of windsurfing experience days, you can learn the basics, and enjoy the thrill of the wind in your hair (and your face, and your body, and basically everywhere), as you rush over the water and forget everything else.
From beginner lessons to intensive courses, there's a variety of options to choose from. Whichever experience you choose, you'll get hands-on experience learning about the techniques and the equipment.
Since windsurfing has been around for a while (although not with the new technology the sport now employs), it could even be that this is something you have tried before, but haven’t had the chance to enjoy now for quite some time… So why not get started again with a superb refresher course? Brilliant!
Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Take a surf board and try standing up on it. Welcome to the wonderful - and carefully balanced - world of paddleboarding (otherwise known as SUP or Stand-Up Paddleboarding). Keep your cool as you manoeuvre this surfboard with a paddle while standing upright.
In a hands-on lesson you'll pick up the secrets on how to paddle, how to steer the board, and crucially how to keep your balance. Nail the basics and you'll enjoy this trendy new water sport.
Who knows, you might soon be skilled enough to take on Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Yoga.
Technology makes pretty much anything better, and now it has turned its attention to surfing. A two-stroke engine sits internally mounted on a carbon fibre board, motorising surfing. Standing on the board, you control the speed using a handheld throttle and you change direction by shifting your body weight.
It's paddleboarding-meets-surfing-meets-an-adrenaline-rush and it's a lot of fun (so long as you can stay upright). If surfing, paddleboarding, or windsurfing all sound a bit dull, this experience proves that the addition of a small motor makes the world of difference.
Surf's Up, Dude! - What You Need To Know
- WHEN: Unflattering wetsuits means lessons can taken place pretty much any time of the year. Outdoor lessons are usually weather dependant but are only postponed in extreme weather or where the sea conditions are dangerous.
- WHERE: Outdoor surfing takes place on a beach with many experiences favouring Cornwall and Devon. Indoor surfing takes place at an aquatics centre equipped with a Flowrider surfing simulator. Windsurfing lessons typically take place on a lake or at coastal locations.
- WHO: These lessons are firmly aimed at water lovers who love splashing around and getting wet. Those that prefer their fun on solid ground need not apply.
- OCCASIONS: Surfing, windsurfing, or paddleboarding lessons are ideal as a gift for any occasion. They can be bolted onto a short break or fitted in around work so are flexible choices. Lessons make excellent Christmas and birthday presents.
- PRICES: Expect to pay upwards of around £50 per person for a surfing, windsurfing, or paddleboarding lesson. Jet surfing starts from around £150. The longer - and more expensive - options tend to be more comprehensive experiences. (correct at the time of writing)
- QUESTIONS: Need help? Ask questions here and I'll try to help as best I can
- TRIED THIS?: Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts here
The Best Surfing Lessons for Beginners
With dozens of aquatic experiences involving some form of board available, deciding which is best can be tough. Here's my favourites that stand-out from the crowd.
O'Neill Half Day Surfing School in Cornwall
Cornwall and surfing goes hand in hand and here you can learn from the best. This lesson lasts up to 3½ hours where a qualified surf coach teaches you the ins and outs of surfing. Learn how to catch and ride the waves like a pro.
Berkshire 2-Day Windsurfing Course (RYA Level 1)
This experience day goes further than many by training you to RYA Level 1 in windsurfing (RYA is the Royal Yachting Association in case, like me, you had no idea). It's the perfect option for beginners, and the certification will help you hire windsurfing equipment around the world. You'll receive expert tuition over two days, training on modern equipment. You'll learn about the equipment, simulate surfing on land, practice balancing and directional control, as well as the safety aspects. By day two you should have everything you need to sail an area. Upon completion of the course you'll get a logbook and handbook.
Remember that if you don't live near Maidenhead or Slough then you'll probably need overnight accommodation for this two-day course. This is a perfect excuse to turn your windsurfing lessons into a great short break!
Introduction to Jet Surfing (Reading or Bedford)
Grab the throttle and control the two-stroke engine mounted on a surfboard and experience jetsurfing. It's easy to pick up and takes time to master. An instructor will show you the ropes before you're let loose with two 20-minute sessions on the board.
Overnight Stand Up Paddleboarding Tour for Two in Devon
Camping, stand-up paddleboarding, wildlife spotting, sailing, and nature walks are all wrapped into one fun experience here. Lundy Island is a small patch of land off the Barnstaple coastline and this two-day tour is a medley of experiences all wrapped into one neat package. You'll sail to the island to discover it's beaches, caves, and wildlife. You'll pitch a tent and camp overnight. Slip into a wetsuit and head out paddleboarding to navigate around the western side of the island. The experience also includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Tavern Inn.